Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Dr. Angela Bryan

Second Advisor

Dr. Mark Whisman

Third Advisor

Dr. Carol A. Kearns

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Stefanie Mollborn


The American College of Sports Medicine recommends for individuals to exercise for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity per week. Women in the United States are less likely to engage in the recommended amount of physical activity per week of exercise than men. Supported by past research, there is is a positive correlation with amount of exercise and happiness in both men and women. It comes as no surprise with the lack of exercise that individuals partake in the United States, then, that the World Happiness Report ranked United States as only being the 15th happiest country. Considering existing research that has demonstrated that exercise can improve overall well-being, we explored the motivation to exercise, as well as the impact of an exercise intervention on an individuals’ happiness. Each participant was randomly assigned to one of 3 conditions that dictated what aspects of exercise to focus on; psychological, physiological, or self-guided. Our results showed that there was a main effect of time with exercise but there was not significant difference between condition in measures of exercise. There was also no significant main effect of time, or condition, or an interaction between any measure of happiness (overall psychological needs and vitality measures). As such, the study has not come to final conclusions that guiding women to focus on a particular aspect of exercise can increase their tendency to exercise to lead to an increase in happiness.